I’m out on blogger vacation this week. The keys to TheKmiecs.com have been turned over to a few, select, awesome guest writers. The following has not been edited by me and is the work and effort of the original author. I appreciate the time and thinking that went into this post and hope you will too. Enjoy!
I am a fan of analogies and I tend to think in pictures so when I try to explain to my non-marketing, brand savvy friends how we attempt to take consumers on the journey to brand loyalty I feel it is best explained through an analogy. The analogy of marriage of course!
You typically don’t wake up married one day, not that it can’t happen, but it is typically not that easy for a brand without some radically new feature so let’s focus on the other 98.6% of times a brand must embark on the drawn out version of this adventure.
This journey to brand loyalty that makes consumers so committed they don’t even consider the competition and it becomes like a marriage must typically start at square one with the basics…
1.) Your Appearance (Packaging)
Even though they say don’t judge a book by its cover, most still do. Similarly, how you dress says a lot about you. It provides the first impression so people invest a great deal of time and money in an attempt to look their best. Packaging is a similar attempt by brands to dress to impress the consumer. If it is innovative enough, packaging can be the sole reason consumers may buy a product, like KLEENEX® Tissue Holiday Ovals. These were and continue to be a tremendous success simply because of their pretty holiday packaging.
2.) The Scene (Targeting/Channel Selection)
Singles tend to visit specific clubs or take part in activities they enjoy (biking, skiing, etc.) in the hopes of crossing paths with other like-minded singles that would appeal to them. Brands must also position themselves in the appropriate locations (tv, print, online) to find their target consumers based on how and where their target consumers focuses their media attention. Within these channels they can narrow the lens by zeroing in on certain demographics, contextual targets (such as baby, cooking or sporting content), or by using behavioral targeting. These approaches allow brands to be more efficient and fish where the fish are.
3.) The Awareness (Advertising)
It may be the person on the dance floor or the quiet unassuming individual that gets your attention based on their appearance and actions. You are constantly forming and reshaping your opinions as you filter through who and what is appealing to determine if they could be “the one” or at least worth pursuing. Advertising must also break through the clutter and grab your attention whatever the medium as it attempts to take you from unaware, to a brand you would consider.
4.) The Pick Up Line (Communications)
Once someone has your eye, you have to figure out what you are going to say to break the ice. As you begin talking, you look to find common interests and the time may fly by if both are truly listening to the dialogue. Instead of pick up lines, brands rely on funny, informational or impactful tag lines and imagery found on their print ads, commercials or the copy that appears in search results. The objective being that this is so compelling the consumer identifies with it immediately, wants to learn more and takes action.
5.) The Invitation (Offers/Promotions)
The dialogue continues and you perhaps find this is really someone worthy of your time. Offers of dinner or perhaps a movie may be suggested for another day. Similarly, brands look to entice consumers with contests, sweepstakes, coupon offers, or more information to further the relationship. Based on the possible value of the consumer, the offer may also be adjusted to help ensure the most valuable ones don’t get away.
6.) The Info Exchange (Relationship Marketing)
As this connection is forming, you are likely deciding how trustworthy this person is and how much personal information you want to exchange. You may start with just your email and phone number or perhaps you decide you are willing to also share your home address. Consumers make these types of decisions as they interact with brands based on the level of trust established, ease of input and the comfortable they have with the channel they are being asked. The consumer must decide if they are willing to share a certain degree of their personal information to further the relationship and often times this is in exchange for the brand’s offer that perhaps initially peaked their interest.
7.) The Commitment (Brand Loyalty)
After the first few dates where you find you truly enjoy spending time together you may agree to a deeper relationship based on the bonds and trust established. Over time you might become so committed that you ultimately agree to marriage. When brands continue to perform, meeting and exceeding expectations, consumers form a trusted bond that can stop them from even considering the competitors and drives them to pay a premium for your brand, with or without coupons. At that point they have made a commitment to exclusively choose your brand and essentially are now married or brand loyal.
This sounds easy enough, but I have yet to find the map etched in stone that clearly articulates every step for either of these journeys (marriage or brand loyalty) and no two consumers or brands are exactly alike. The other reality is that there is no ring around the consumer’s finger once they arrive at this brand loyal status. As a result, brands must continue to meet and exceed consumer expectations because after even just one bad experience or a major improvement from the competition and you may wake up to find your brand loyal consumer now married to your competitor over night…
The good news, these positive relationships happen every day to individuals and brands so it can be done. There also are many parallels in both journeys that may help guide you as you look to foster and develop these relationships overtime.
So even though the path to brand loyalty is not set in stone, just remember that communication is typically the key to finding the answers and solving the problem as you embark on either of these journeys!
Written and authored by Kate Johnson – Check her out at on twitter.